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What's in this plan, anyway?

If Tucson voters approve a half-cent hike, which would increase the total sales tax at city cash registers to 8.1 percent beginning in July, transportation officials would have an estimated $40 million a year for transportation spending for the next decade.

The city currently spends about $170 million annually on transportation, with about $42 million coming from the general fund. The remainder is state and federal funding dedicated to transportation projects.

Over the next 10 years, the new dollars would be split into three broad categories, with 45 percent ($180 million) going to "congestion management," 37 percent ($148 million) going toward residential street repair and 18 percent (or $72 million) dedicated to mass transit.

Among the major projects in the "congestion management" portion of the prop:

· Three grade-separated intersections, which eliminate a stoplight in one direction, allowing traffic on one street to travel unimpeded beneath another. The GSIs would be built at Grant Road and Campbell Avenue ($20 million), Grant/Kolb and Tanque Verde roads ($23 million) and Kino Boulevard and 22nd Street ($10 million).

· Other improvements along Grant Road, including additional lanes from Oracle Road to Park Avenue and intersection improvements at Alvernon Way and Craycroft Road. Estimated cost: $30 million, with $20 million coming from new sales-tax dollars.

· Widening Houghton Road from Speedway to Interstate 10 to accommodate continuing growth on the city's booming southeast side, as well as widening Speedway Boulevard from Camino Seco to Houghton and Tanque Verde Road from Catalina Highway to Houghton. Estimated cost: $86.2 million, with $51.1 million coming from new sales-tax dollars.

· Widening Broadway between Euclid and Country Club ($59 million, with $44 million coming from sales tax dollars).

· Widening Valencia Road between I-19 and Mission Road ($6.1 million, with $2.1 million coming from sales tax dollars).

· Widening Drexel Road between Tucson Boulevard and Alvernon Way ($7.2 million)

· Widening 22nd Street between I-10 and Park Avenue.

· Building a bridge to connect Alvernon Way and River Road (Total cost: $83.8 million, with $51.6 million coming from new sales-tax dollars.

In most cases, the additional funding for projects comes from the 1997 county bond funds, which require participation from the city.

Another $5 million from the congestion program will be spent on technological projects, including a pilot program to use video cameras to catch drivers who run red lights. (See "Candid Camera," April 4.)

The residential maintenance portion of the proposition, which accounts for 37 percent of the new revenue (or $148 million), would be spent repairing residential streets, adding sidewalks and streetlights, enhancing street sweeping and maintaining landscaping and drainageways. In some cases, residents will have to match spending on sidewalks and streetlights through an increase in their property tax bill.

Mass transit would get the final 18 percent of the new revenues, or an additional $7.2 million a year. City officials say this would reverse cuts to Sun Tran service in recent years and add a few weekend and evening hours.

More by Jim Nintzel

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